A Travellerspoint blog

First Day in Athens

A whirlwind of ancient sights

sunny 84 °F

Delta was actually nice enough to serve bananas for breakfast, but I woke up just in time for them to clear them off our tray tables. I was able to stop the flight attendant in time to save mine, but Kristine's was already gone. She ended up having it, so needless to say, I was starving. By the time we took the 45 minute train into the city, found our hotel, checked in and dropped off our things, it was almost noon. We wasted no time finding the first little cafe we could and sitting down for some breakfast. Believe it or not they had omelettes (but Greek omelettes sadly weren't an option). IMG_1111.jpg
It seemed to take forever to get our food, but at least we had a nice little table! They must have run out of bread, because our waitress disappeared right after we ordered and came back a few minutes later with a bag of bread. Seconds later, half a baguette was on our table. It doesn't get any fresher than that! They may have gone out back to get eggs from the chicken coop too with how long it took to get our omelettes
IMG_1114.jpg
Our omelettes came with a nice little salad! The omelettes almost tasted like they were battered, or maybe they were just fried with a ton of oil, because there was a layer on the outside that reminded me of a fishfry or chicken french. It was different...

First stop was the Ancient Agora, which was essentially the downtown of ancient Athens, where people spent time debating, shopping, etc. Inside the museum in the Stoa of Attalos (a reconstructed arcade of shops), I found some ancient skewers...ancient souvlaki please!
IMG_1122.jpg

Immediately, Athens reminds me of Rome. The Ancient Agora is not unlike the Roman Forum, where they have so many artifacts that they don't know what to do with them. Sadly, many things lay around the site without any kind of explanation of what you are looking at. Just a bunch of old stones in an unkempt garden. At the museum, there was literally a box that was labeled "Uncategorized Artifacts 2011".
IMG_1130.jpg

One thing on the site that was very impressive was the Thisseion (aka Hephaisteion) which was build in 449 B.C. and is one of the world's best-preserved Greek temples. It was pretty amazing to see in almost fully intact considering the ruins around us.
IMG_1134.jpg
We then headed uphill toward the Acropolis, walking along the scenic Apostolou Pavlou and Dionysiou Areopagitou, two streets lined with cafes with amazing views. On our way to the Acropolis, I somehow convinced Kristine to hike up the Areopagus (A huge hill with a great view of the Acropolis). Apparently ancient trials were held there. It was definitely worth it in my opinion, and I think she enjoyed it too.

After we paid our admission, we first saw the Theater of Herodes Atticus, where 5,000 people can still cram the marble benches to watch shows.
IMG_1145.jpg
Next was the Theater of Dionysos. While it wasn't nearly as well restored, it was far more historically relevant as the first and oldest theater in Athens, where plays by Sophocles and other famous playwrights were performed for the first time.

After hiking up and down hills all day, Kristine was exhausted when we finally made it to the Propylaia, the monumental entranceway to the Acropolis, build in the 5th century B.C. We're definitely glad to be here in September, not only because the crowds are sparse, but also because its brutally hot and we can't imagine hiking all of these hills in the middle of the summer.
IMG_1146.jpg
Everywhere we went, there were unleashed dogs laying around with no owners in sight, and the Acropolis was no exception. They literally did nothing but lay there and were totally unphased by the hundreds of tourists walking by. It was hard to tell whether they were strays or if their owners worked at the sights or what was going on.

Once we made our way up the steps of the Propylaia, we were immediately disappointed to see the Parthenon under restoration, much like the Leaning Tower of Pisa had been on our last trip. Getting a picture isn't quite the same. We were somewhat contented to be able to take decent pictures from the other side.
IMG_1152.jpgIMG_1161.jpg

Also on the Acropolis was the Erechtheion, with its amazing Caryatids (the statues of women instead of columns). It wasn't until we went to the Acropolis museum afterward that we were unhappy to find out that these statues were replicas and the real ones were housed in the museum. The Erechtheion has some mythological significance, as it was said to house the physical evidence of the fight over Athens between Poseidon and Athena. Athena offered an olive tree (allegedly the first ever), while Poseidon was said to have struck his trident on a spot on the Acropolis, causing a spring to "gush forth."
IMG_1169.jpg

On a completely unrelated note, as we searched for the Acropolis Museum, we saw a building with a pergola on its roof. A pergola is the structure with a completely useless roof that I nonetheless want in my backyard.
IMG_1179.jpg
We both really enjoyed the museum and learned a lot (yes, we're both big nerds). Apparently, the massive walls of the Acropolis were fortified in the 13 century...B!C! Wow. Also, I learned that the Acropolis we see today was actually the second to be built on that site, the first of which was destroyed by the Persians in 480 B.C. I was also reminded that amazingly, the Parthenon was largely intact until 1687 when it was under siege by the Venetians and a cannonball blew up the gunpowder that was being stored inside. I say reminded, because believe it or not, I actually remembered learning that in 6th grade (although the details were admittedly fuzzy). After the museum, there was just enough daylight to catch Hadrian's arch and the Temple of Olympian Zeus. The guidebook, "Arthur," told us that Hadrian's arch separated the "old" city of Athens from the "new" Roman one. Inscribed on the old side is "This is Athens, once the city of Theseus" and on the new side was "This is Hadrians, and not Theseus's City." Sounds like somebody had a complex...Kristine and I got a chuckle out of that one. At the temple nearby, only a dozen or so of the columns remain standing, but they are pretty massive and were cool to see. For some reason, the Temple grounds were closed. By that point it was starting to get dark, so we wandered down Adrianou street-known for its shops and cafes-in search of the restaurant we had picked out of our guidebook.
IMG_1187.jpg

The restaurant was cute..we got to sit outside and dinner was great! We ate around 9pm, which believe it or not is early in Greece. The restaurant didn't start filling up until around the "dinner hour" at 10pm! I had a tomato and cucumber salad, which was good but drenched in about a half inch of olive oil and a veal souvlaki! Kristine got grape leaves which are her favorite at Greek restaurants back home. She liked them until I told her that they were probably made of lamb. She also went outside her comfort zone and had a roasted chicken :-). We also had some local wine with dinner which was great! What was supposed to be a cheap dinner quickly added up but oh well, we're on vacation. Although dinner was great, we ended up wandering around afterward and finding a cute restaurant row on a stairway and wished we had found it sooner.
IMG_1190.jpg

We were tired and more than a little jet lagged, so we called it an early night to go back and actually plan (gasp) the next few days of our trip. After Athens, it looks like we're going to rent a car to see Delphi, Olympia, Nafplion and Corinth before heading out to Santorini. Not sure if we'll go to another island after that. What we do in our second week is still up for debate!?!?!

Posted by atbrady 16:46 Archived in Greece Tagged greece of athens parthenon museum arch ancient acropolis atticus agora hadrian's stoa attalos hephaisteion thisseion herodes Comments (2)

A Dream, Deferred

Egypt is off the table

sunny 75 °F

Well, considering everything that has been going on in Egypt, pretty much everybody was apprehensive about us going there. I guess I'm just too dumb/stubborn/naive, because I probably would have gone anyway, but Kristine didn't feel comfortable and this trip is as much hers as it is mine, so we're officially searching for a different place to go after Greece. I remember being fascinated by Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome ever since learning about them in 6th grade social studies. We made it to Rome last time around and Greece was on the itinerary, but we didn't end up having time for it. It turned out for the best, because now I have the opportunity to spend a full week in Greece whereas it probably would have only been 3-4 days before. This time, I wanted to check Greece and Egypt off my list, but I guess now I'll just have an excuse to start dreaming of another trip. Hopefully it will turn out for the best and we'll have a great experience in Egypt one day.

We left Rochester at 7:30am this morning and made it to Rockland by 12:30. I bought some MP3s on learning Greek that we played in the car, but Kristine said that I slept most of the drive and only woke up to say a few greek phrases every few minutes before falling back asleep (I was running on 2 hrs sleep). We made it to Rockland by 1:00pm and Kristine's cousin Erica was nice enough to drive us to JFK. We got there around 2:30pm, plenty of time before our 4:30 flight. The flight was relatively uneventful. We were served peanuts and dinner which was nice, though small and not so filling.
IMG_1106.jpg
I didn't mind too much because I fell asleep shortly afterward and slept for most of the plane ride. Kristine had some trouble sleeping on my shoulder, my lap, my chest and any other way she could think of. I was told I don't sit still well enough too be slept on. Lucky for me, I can sleep anywhere and on anything.

When we arrived at 9:30am local time, it was 2:30am Rochester time, so Kristine was a bit disoriented but my sleep had been reasonably well adjusted. We took a train into Athens (about 45 minutes). As we looked out the windows, we laughed that we might as well have been in Texas from the looks of the landscape. Even the passengers didn't seem to dress much different than Americans. But when we got off the train and walked out onto Montastiraki Square, the culture hit me like a ton of bricks! In walking a few blocks from the station to our hotel, one thing that jumped out at me was how cops were so casual. Most of them were wearing blue t-shirts and wouldn't stand out from the crowd at all unless their shirts said police on them. They also walk around in groups of 4 or 5 and I'm not sure many of them had guns. Anyways, we just checked-in to our hotel. It looks sort of shady on the street and from the outside, but as soon as you hit the lobby its very inviting. The rooms are simple but adequate and we even have a balcony. It's almost noon now, so we're off to make the most of the rest of our day!

Posted by atbrady 16:15 Archived in Greece Tagged greece travel flight delta Comments (1)

Final "Plans" for our trip to Greece and Egypt

Prepared for another great adventure

sunny 65 °F

Travel is a wonder drug like no other. If you aren't feeling alive, pack your bags, leave town, and determine what comes next as you move along.

Well, its been two years since our last international adventure and when Kristine found out that she had a month off in between graduating from Northeastern and starting her job at Deloitte, it was kind of a no-brainer that we had to plan another adventure. I use the word "plan" loosely, as we decided on a destination and purchased our tickets about two weeks ago and with 24 hours until we're on the road to fly out of JFK, all we know is that we're getting to Athens Friday morning (9/14) and leaving from Cairo two weeks later on 9/28. No hotels have been booked, no itinerary has been decided and nothing is set in stone. It's not quite the same as our last trip because we have our return flights booked this time around, but I'll admit that I'm a bit apprehensive re-acclimating to the uncertainty that was so addicting on our last trip. About a week ago, we purchased travel books on Greece and Egypt. I've read the book on Greece, and Kristine will be the expert on all things Egypt. We have also had the good fortune of connecting with several people who have travelled to these destinations in the past and have appreciated their insights on the best things to see to help us cram as many incredible experiences as possible into the next two weeks. At one point, we were hoping to fit a side-trip to Istanbul into the itinerary, but once we purchased the books and started listing places we wanted to see, that idea sounded more and more unrealistic. In the last few days however, news of unrest in Egypt might end up shortening our stay there and giving us a chance to check out Istanbul or some other place after all.

After our experience lugging around a backpack and duffle bag each the last go round (although more often than not, I was the designated carrier of both duffle bags, especially while sprinting to a train station or airport), the goal is to fit our needs for the next two weeks into one backpack apiece. I'm only planning to pack my computer, phone, camera, chargers, 2 pants, 2 shorts, 2 t-shirts, 1 polo, 1 button down and something relatively water-resistant in case of rain. I'll be interested to see what Kristine tries to cram into her backpack. We'll see how that goes when we pack later tonight. Both Kristine and I have commented that it doesn't seem real yet that we're going, but I know that I'm starting to get very excited just by writing this. In preparing for this trip, I was reminded of the above quote by Chris Guillebeau, whose blog (http://chrisguillebeau.com/3x5/) I found shortly after returning from our last trip in an effort to satisfy my newfound addiction to adventure. He has since been inspirational to me not only on travel, but also on entrepreneurship and living a remarkable (and unconventional life). Hitting the road in t-minus 21 hours!

Posted by atbrady 06:50 Archived in USA Tagged greece egypt packing itinerary planning Comments (0)

España!

..or more specifically Cataluña

sunny 90 °F
View Post-College Eurotrip on atbrady's travel map.

Boy is our hotel room small. When we woke up around 8:30am, the lights wouldn’t turn on. I think there might have been a “lights out” policy or something because as we were packing up, our lights magically turned on right around 9am. We originally only booked one night because the price for Monday night was cheap but the Tuesday and Wednesday prices were significantly higher. We were planning to try to barter for better prices but Kristine had been so turned off by the (interestingly named) "Pension Miami" hotel's seedy location the previous night that we decided to find an internet café and find a different hotel. It was a minimum 50 euro cents for the internet but the kicker was that for that price, only one of us was allowed to use the internet, so Kristine searched while I had to sit at the entrance which was pretty ridiculous. She booked a place that wasn’t too far away, but check in wasn’t until 12 and there was no front desk to even let us in before that so we had a little over an hour to kill. We made our way to the Arc de Triomf (I guess every city has one) and walked around the Park de la Ciutadella surrounded by government buildings and even the Barcelona zoo. Then we went back and grabbed our bags before heading to our new hotel which is more like a home and is very charming. There is a full kitchen and we have a room with a small balcony that gives us a great view. We met a girl from France and a guy from Korea that were cooking as we dropped off our things. By this time we were starving and went to Tapa Tapa and had some great and cheap Tapas. Tapas are basically like appetizers that are mostly 3-6 euros, so you can get a couple for lunch or dinner. I had a delicious little salad and some kebabs made of some kind of meat that I couldn’t determine.

Afterward, we headed to the tour bus stop and bought a two day pass that will take us all around to the many sites of Barcelona. Its actually run by the same company as the buses I took and London and I luckily found my receipts from London and saved a few euros off my ticket, but they wouldn't give Kristine the discount. First stop was Parc Guell which we thought would be a quick half hour stop. Instead, the bus dropped us off a few blocks from the entrance to the park and the walk to the park was very steep. The park is a failed housing development designed by Antonio Gaudi and his whimsical architecture could be seen throughout the park. The park is absolutely enormous and offers fantastic views of Barcelona since it is on one of the city’s highest hills. At one point we stopped to listen to an authentic little band and after watching a few people give them change, we watched one of the band members plant a 20 euro bill among the pile of change. We both found this quite entertaining and wondered whether this subtle hint really made people give more money.

After another few minutes of an uphill hike we were sitting in a small plaza lined with souvenir vendors listening to another band when we saw a nearby hill with a few people on it. Much to Kristine’s chagrin, we climbed up to the top of this little peak “Tres Cruces” (for the three stone crosses at the peak) for a great panorama of the city. It was pretty steep and were a bit surprised that there were no fences at the peak. We laughed at the thought of how such a spot back home would be surrounded by heavy duty fences to prevent inevitable lawsuits. After spending a few hours more than the planned half hour at Park Guell, we headed back down to the bus stop only to find an enormous line to get back on the tour bus. The line looked to be at least an hour long and I noticed that the previous stop on the route was only about 5 blocks away, so we walked it in about 15 minutes to catch the bus without any line (score!). We rode the bus and listened to the narrative for most of the rest of the blue route loop of the bus tour. We passed by the Barcelona soccer stadium, the largest stadium in Europe. Maybe its because Barca won the European cup this past year, but I have seen more people wearing Barca jerseys per hour around here than I saw over a few days elsewhere in Europe. With all of that support, I can't imagine they have any trouble filling the stadium despite its size. It was getting late, otherwise I would have liked to stop at the stadium as there is supposed to be a cool soccer museum and tour of the stadium.

We continued on the bus to Las Ramblas, the main tourist street in Barcelona and from there walked to Cathedral de la Santa Creu. We were a bit iffy on whether to stop there despite Arthur’s recommendations only because we had seen so many churches on our tour and they were all starting to look the same. However, we were happy to have stopped. The gothic architecture of the church was pleasantly unique and there was even a beautiful courtyard with a few fountains and swans. The only disappointing part was that the outside was undergoing renovations. It seems as if every site we visit is under renovations this summer from London to Pisa to Bologna and now Barcelona. Oh well. Kristine had to cover her shoulders at the cathedral but luckily I had a towel in my backpack in case we had time to hit the beach. One funny aspect of the church was that the candles that most churches let you light for a small donation were replaced by little electric candles that automatically lit up when you dropped change in. It wasn’t quite the same. We also saw a poster that announced that the Pope would be there in a few weeks. It was funny because it looked like a poster for a concert and made the Pope look like a hip rock star. Just outside the church was a cool little antique market where I found a few cheap old Spanish coins and Kristine finally found an antique ring that she had been searching for during our whole trip.

We then headed back to Las Ramblas and to the famous La Boqueria, an enormous market with fresh fruit, meat and fish at a variety of little stands. Kristine found a great dried fruit stand, but mostly we just walked around and admired the market. We noticed in Frommer’s that most restaurants didn’t open until 8, so we wandered the market and then Las Ramblas for a while before heading to our restaurant of choice. Since our only map was the free one we were given on the bus tour and it only included the main streets, it took us quite a while to find the restaurant we were looking for only to find that it was closed. We settled on another that yet again took us forever to find and almost caved in to various restaurants along the strip, but Arthur’s description of the restaurant we were searching for sounded so good that we decided to forge on. When we finally found it after asking a cop for directions, we were pleased that we stuck it out and found the restaurant. As we were seated, we walked through the kitchen, which smelled fantastic and looked quite authentic and couldn’t believe that Arthur had classified this as an “Inexpensive” restaurant. Once we sat down and looked at the menu, with the cheapest entre around 30 euros, we realized that it was in fact too good to be true. There was no way we were dropping over 100 bucks on dinner, so I convinced Kristine to walk out and told her that I would follow in 30 seconds. It was a funny experience and we felt a little bad because they had brought our bread out, but we hadn’t eaten any so oh well. At this point, I was a bit fed up with Arthur. I had contemplated it before, but now I was sure that Arthur was paid off by the restaurants and it was nothing more than a book for them to advertise in. While Arthur had certainly told us about some great restaurants, others must have paid to be included in the book and classified as “inexpensive.”

Anyways, we went back to one of the places we had contemplated going to before. When we sat down and saw the prices on the menu, we were again a bit nervous that the 10.95 deal (for paella and two tapas) was too good to be true, as the paella alone was 10 euros and the tapas were around 5 euros apiece. I had a Spanish omelette which was maybe a quarter of an egg with potato inside and I was extremely glad I didn’t pay 5 euros for it. I’m hoping that it was just a small portion because it was part of the special deal-otherwise that is one overpriced omelette. Kristine got a pizza as her main course that was pretty good and I was ecstatic to finally have some paella. My seafood paella had shrimp with the heads and feet still attached which was kind of strange but didn’t bother me much. Kristine, on the other hand, was grossed out, and she didn’t even have to eat them! This was the most full I had been on our entire trip, and for only 10.95 apiece! We topped it off with some sangria, which they kind of screwed us with (7 euros each) but we still had a great and cheap dinner nonetheless. As we walked back up Las Ramblas to turn in for the night, we stopped to watch a variety of street performers, from dancers to one guy who painted himself to look like a statue and sat on a toilet. We also noticed signs hanging from street lamps that detailed some harsh punishments for things like vandalism. The scare tactics seemed to be an effective strategy because restaurants were able to keep chairs out without being tampered with and the strip was mostly spotless. On the way home, we walked through the Placa de Catalunya and admired a beautiful fountain. We got back to our hotel after a long day, admired the view from our balcony, and turned in for the night.

Posted by atbrady 21:04 Archived in Spain Tagged barcelona cathedral gaudi la santa de arc parc guell boqueria triomf tres cruces creu Comments (0)

Last Day in Italy

Making the most of our second day in Venice before heading to Barcelona late

sunny 86 °F
View Post-College Eurotrip on atbrady's travel map.

Well I woke up this morning and realized that the huge bites I had everywhere had gone down moderately but more importantly that I hadn’t got any more bites. So, I’m fairly sure that I don’t actually have bedbugs, which is good news. Must have been some pretty sizeable mosquitoes though. We had to pack up our things and put them in the lobby since we’ll be back on the road tonight. Just before we left our room, we took advantage of the (free!) wifi and booked our flights back home. It was tough having to decide between a Thursday morning flight, which was the cheapest but only gave us two days in Barcelona or a Friday night flight that would effectively give us four days in Barcelona, but it would cost an extra $100 and also gave us a 9-hour layover in Dublin. That wasn’t exactly how I planned to spend my first time in Ireland. Eventually we decided on the earlier flight, which would give me a chance to get home in time for my mom’s birthday. With that, however, Kristine promised to wake up early to get the most out of our two days in Barcelona. This was the first time that our last minute planning didn’t work totally in our favor. Arthur recommended buying plane tickets either far in advance or at the last minute for the best deals and since this whole trip was kind of last minute, the flight home was never going to be cheap. For whatever reason, even when I first started planning for this trip, the flights home were about 300 more than the flights there. I have been monitoring the prices every chance I get and they went up by about $100 even when looking a few days before and after the day we wanted to leave. In this case, it was worth the $100 because of the flexibility it offered since so much of the trip was left open, but in the future, I think I would buy the tickets there and back way in advance but leave the rest up in the air to figure out as I go.

Anyways, we hit up the same sandwich shop from yesterday, it was frustrating because I hate repeating but it was literally the only cheap stop we had seen in all of our travels yesterday and the sandwiches filled us up for a good price. Interestingly, this little place has waiters, which struck us as odd since its really no more than a little deli. Its funny how all across Italy, they try to avoid giving you meat at all costs. Either they think that they can substitute mozzarella for meat or they give you one, maybe two thin slices of meat. I can’t wait for a huge Wegman’s sub when I get home. A 14 inch costs about 7.50 and lasts me for about two meals and costs roughly the same or less than these 5 and 6 euro sandwiches that don’t even fill me up. Afterward, we headed to the Palazzo Ducal (Doge’s Palace) on the Piazza San Marco and bought the combination ticket for the Palace and the Museo Civico Correr on the palace’s bottom floor. Immediately I noticed how dead it was inside the museum, similar to the campanile yesterday that had no lines to get to the top even at sunset. I’m not sure whether this is because the attractions are so ridiculously expensive or whether people simply would rather explore the beauty of Venice than be cooped up inside. I suspect it’s a combination of the two. The museum was an interesting narrative on the history of Venice although both Kristine and I are starting to reach our limit on cultural activities. One thing I did like was that in each room there were signs explaining the significance of the room or its contents in a variety of languages. The Doge was the traditional leader of the republic of Venice but was mostly just a figurehead. Nevertheless, the palace was both beautiful and extravagant, with some rooms rivaling the grandeur of Versailles in both size and ornate decoration. One room where the leaders of government once met was said to be the largest room in Europe and had a ceiling beautifully decorated with remarkable detail.

One oddity of the Palace was that it also housed Venice’s jails in the same building where the Doge lived. The jails might take the cake as the smelliest place in an already fairly smelly continent. I think that the smell came from the frequent floods in Venice leaving behind enough moisture for mold and mildew to take hold since they were on the ground floor. We were able to walk across the so-called Bridge of Sighs, named because it connected the judicial offices where prisoners were sentenced to the jails themselves and the prisoners were said to sigh as they walked across the bridge and glimpsed their last view of Venice out of the small windows on the bridge before being locked up. After our tour, we were back on the Piazza San Marco and walked around the shops for a bit. Many of the shops have Murano glass, which I had heard of but did not realize that Murano was an island that was just off the main islands of Venice. Arthur recommended a day trip to the islands of Murano and Burano if we had a third day in Venice which we will regrettably not have time for. One shop even had glass handblown to resemble balloon animals which was a clever idea but cost upwards of a few thousand euros. Needless to say, the shops around San Marco were way out of our price range to actually buy anything from. Kristine grabbed a gelato and we sat down on the steps as close as possible to a restaurant to enjoy one of the many house orchestras without having to pay a ridiculous table charge for the pleasure. However, I ended up paying in a different way when a pigeon’s poop landed on my shorts as we were sitting there. After Kristine grabbed a few napkins for me, we headed back to our hotel so that I could wash it off with water and more importantly wash my hands. While we’re on the subject of poop, Kristine and I have noticed an interesting fashion trend here and to a lesser extent all around Europe where girls wear enormously baggy kapris that evoke memories of MC Hammer and parachute pants. We’ve come to call them poop shorts because it makes people look like they have a load in their pants.

By this point in the day, it was starting to get late and we had to grab an early dinner so that we could get back on the road and catch our flight at 11 to head to Barcelona. We decided to explore a new section of Venice by walking from San Marco along the water on the Riva degli Schiavoni in hopes of finding a restaurant along the way. The two restaurants in Frommer’s that we had wanted to try the most were interestingly closed on both Sunday and Monday which happened to be the two days we were in Venice so we were on our own. On our trek we saw the outside of the Bridge of Sighs which we had seen pictures of everywhere in Venice. Unfortunately, this picturesque sight was covered in advertisement billboards which needless to say ruined its beauty. There were a few decent restaurants along the way that we thought about stopping at, but out of dumb luck, we decided to forge on and eventually found the little gem of a street-the Via Garibaldi. It had a bunch of restarants and was the first place we had found in Venice that wasn’t overrun by tourists. We had been talking the past few days about how we couldn’t escape the touristy parts of Venice as souvenir shops and overpriced restaurants seemed to line every street. We were blown away that in our travels we had yet to see even a grocery store or a fruit stand. It seemed as if nobody actually lived in Venice but rather just commuted to work in the service industry. However, Via Garibaldi immediately became my favorite place in Venice. Side streets looked like they were actually lived in and there were plenty of fruit stands, grocery and hardware stores, not to mention a cluster of reasonably priced restaurants. I later noticed that one of Arthur’s restaurants we had wanted to go to was on the Garibaldi, so we had certainly lucked out. The food was pretty good and the wine was fantasic and cheap yet again. I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but restaurants in Europe give you little business cards with your check which for us was a nice way to remember all of the places we have been.

If I ever came back to Venice I would definitely try to find a hotel in this area. San Marco is great to visit, but is a bit overrated in my opinion. When we walked through San Marco on the way back to our hotel, we also saw that most people had cleared out of the Piazza and unfortunately left behind all kinds of litter and trash. We quickly grabbed our bags and hopped onto a vaporetto to get to the bus stop that would take us to the airport. I would highly recommend taking a vaporetto at night to see Venice from the Grand Canal at night. The water was a bit choppy and I was very surprised to see that the gondolas were very stable in the water. On neither the vaporetto nor the bus was there any kind of ticket check which we were surprised by. We got to the airport with plenty of time, especially since the plane was running about a half hour late. The flight was pretty quick, but we still got into Barcelona pretty late, around 1:30am. We hopped on a bus that took us to the Placa Catalunya, which was just a few blocks from our hotel. However, lacking a map, Kristine pushed for a taxi which took us to the Pension Miami, which wasn’t in the greatest part of town. Between the taxi driver warning us to hold onto our things tightly and two separate friends who have spent semesters abroad in Barcelona warning of the pickpocketing, Kristine is pretty nervous and not crazy about Barcelona. Regardless, we made it to our hotel without a problem and passed out around 3am.

Posted by atbrady 20:08 Archived in Italy Tagged venice palace palazzo via ducale doge's garibaldi Comments (0)

(Entries 36 - 40 of 65) « Page .. 3 4 5 6 7 [8] 9 10 11 12 13 .. »